Provincial polls overshadowed by federal elections

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Kathmandu, Nov. 13: The federal and provincial elections are just a week away but Ayushi Thapa still does not know the persons standing from her constituency for the seats in the Provincial Assembly.

The 23-year-old voter of Lalitpur Constituency 2 ‘A’ told this daily that she has not had any candidate come to her house and has no knowledge who are in the fray at the provincial level.

“And it’s not just me,” she said. “None of my family members know either.” 

It is the same thing with Anjani Khadgi, 54, of Kathmandu Constituency 9 ‘B’. She said that she knew the candidates from the main parties for the House of Representatives – Krishna Gopal Shrestha from CPN-UML and Kalpana Dhamala from CPN (Maoist Centre) representing the ruling coalition – but had no knowledge of who the parties had fielded for the Provincial Assembly.

“I am going in blind,” she said. “The Election Commission, the political parties and the candidates, no one has told us anything about the provincial election. Everyone is only focused on the federal polls.”

Meanwhile, Rajak Lama of Nardevi, Kathmandu Metropolitan City–18, does not even know which constituency he lives in, let alone the candidates. “It’s confusing,” he complained. “We have constituencies for the House of Representatives and then sub-constituencies for the Provincial Assembly.”

Lama, 38, questioned why the Election Commission (EC) had not adequately educated him and other voters about these details and said that he felt disheartened by the lack of information.

Many people The Rising Nepal talked to over the week expressed the same sentiment. They said they were confused, especially about the vote for their provincial representatives. Young, first-time voters were not sure about which provincial constituency they resided in and a significant number of voters, young and old, across the Kathmandu Valley did not know who were in the contest to be their representatives at the Bagmati provincial legislature in Hetauda. And a majority of the people this paper spoke to blamed the EC for it.

“No EC official has come to our houses to orient us how to vote, nor have they made any effort to inform us of who our candidates are,” said Nawami Chataut, a voter of Bhaktapur Constituency 2 ‘A’. “Even their website is not voter-friendly,” she criticised.

According to the EC, citizens can find the complete list of all candidates standing at the federal and provincial levels on their website. But when one tries to access it, they are presented with two excel sheets, each having more than 2,000 names.

“Why couldn’t they have made a searchable database the way they have for voter names?” Chataut asked.

Chataut also pointed the finger at the parties who, she felt, have spent their resources on promoting those standing for the House of Representatives and not on those standing for the Provincial Assembly.

“It does not feel like we even have an election for the province on November 20,” she said.

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